Sunday, October 30, 2005


Even before the sun rose, I rushed to the baker’s house.

I hesitated to knock.

Was I too early?

What if they were just waking?

What if they were just settling down to eat breakfast?

What if she had changed her mind?

The front door opened.

Anna Kristina stepped out.

She saw me, and laughed.

“I was just coming to see you,” she said.

“I have news.” I said.

“I do, too.”

“You go first.”

“No, you.”

“St. Peter,” we both blurted.

We both laughed.

“A visit?” I asked.

“You, too?”

“He’s been busy,” I said.

“He said that we were free to marry,” she said.

“He told me the same.”

At that point we hugged. We said nothing.

After a moment, we, pulled back, but still held hands.

“I have been dispensed from my promise of celibacy. He was the first pope, after all.”

“He told me we had a choice.”

“You know what I choose.”

“But,” she added, “he told me that as with all choices, there are consequences.”

“Yes, it will mean changes in my life style.”

“It could mean children, and a settled home.”

I nodded. “I had thought of that. But I can think of no better reason for changing my ways.”

We hugged again.

And that’s how we became engaged.

Some day I’ll tell you about our wedding.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Free to choose

I jumped out of bed

"P..P..Peter?" I stammered.

I fell on my knees.

He stepped out of the shadows.

It was a familiar face. Solemn, yet kindly. A glint of mischief in his eyes.

I had seen that face the night I died.

"Nicholas. Nicholas," He said, with a hint of humor in his voice. "And they say I'm guided by my heart and not my head."

"I know I've been foolish."

"Foolish?" he said. "To fall in love? Love is one of the Lord's greatest gifts. Love for another gives us a taste of the love of the Lord for us."

He chuckled.

"Besides, I knew human love as well."

"What do I do? What does the Lord will."

"What do YOU want?"

"To marry. But my vows?"

"When you made those promises, you made them sincerely. You faithfully kept them in your lifetime, even though you struggled at times. But you always sought the Lord's aid whenever you struggled. You were a man of prayer. You still are."

"What of now?"

"Now? Now you have a special ministry in service to the Lord. It is a ministry you freely accepted when I first visited you the night you died. You could have chosen to enter your heavenly reward, but you willingly agreed to remain in the world."

I remembered that choice. To remain and bring joy to others. To keep alive the sense of wonder and magic. To make this world of sorrow and suffering also a place where people can experience a taste of heaven and its gifts. Especially the children.

It really wasn't a difficult choice at all. It was a gift.

"You have served God well. You have sought nothing for yourself.

"But when the Lord created man, he said it is not good for man to be alone. You have chosen to remain alone far longer than any other man has been asked to live.

"Moreover, the ministry you have accepted is growing. You have added helpers along the way. But what you need is a partner to share in the work and to provide mutual comfort and support.

"So, by the authority given me by Jesus Christ, I dispense you from the promise you made to remain unmarried for the sake of the kingdom. You are free to choose."

Then he was gone.

For a moment I wondered if it was all just a dream.

So I fell on my knees and prayed until the sun rose.

And in my heart, I knew.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

A visitor

I went home that night determined to go see the Bishop Freising as soon as possible.

I told Peter my plans.

“She is a wonderful person,” Peter said. “I wish I had met someone like her.”

“You still might,” I said. “Look how long it took me.”

“But I won’t live as long as you,” he said.

A part of the gift given me is that those who accompany me find their lives extended. Peter looked to be in his 20s, but he was actually more than 100.

My other companions have been similarly blessed with long life. But none had remained with me forever, and when we parted ways, they aged normally. I had been to the funerals of many good friends.

But this was the first time Pete had suggested that he might not stay with me.

“Are you thinking of leaving?”

“Not now. But if you marry, well, will you really want me around?”

“Of course. Besides, it may never happen.”

“Why? You love each other.”

“I was ordained. I made a promise of celibacy.”

“Didn’t that end when you died?”

“No. It is forever. I am a priest forever.”

He sighed.

“I am a loyal child of the Church,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean I always understand it.”

A few hours later, I went to bed. I said my prayers as I always do.

Tonight my prayers included, “Lord, show me what you would have me do.”

I fell asleep. But in the night I suddenly awoke.

I sensed there was someone else in the room.

“Peter, is that you?”


But the voice was not that of my Peter.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Grandfather Rupert to the rescue

She went to the door and opened it.

“Please come back,” she said.

In filed her brothers and father. Nicholas gave me a small smile. Paul looked at me suspiciously.

They all stood facing us.

“Father, my brothers,” she began. “Good Master Nicholas came here tonight as an honorable man.

“In the woods it was I, not he, who began the kiss. I was foolish. I let my feelings get out of hand.

“He came here tonight to do the right thing. But he also came to point out to me some problems that could come from my feelings for him.

“One of those things is our difference in ages. Out of the kindness of his heart, he is ready not to hold my youth against me.”

Her brother Nicholas snorted as he struggled to hide a laugh. I could see a twinkle in his eye.

“So I will respect his wishes. I have told him he may call on me until such time we resolve the problems – if that is agreeable to you, Father?”

“I do not know what to say,” Jacob said. “There is, ah, a difference.”

“Yes,” Anna Kristina said. “But as Grandfather Rupert showed, a difference does not doom something that is good.”

The brothers all looked at each other. Jacob nodded his head.

“All right, then,” he sighed. “Master Nicholas, you are welcome to visit as is fitting. But the rules must be observed. That is proper.”

Anna Kristina turned to me.

“I will ask mother if you may join us for dinner tomorrow. I will send word to you.”

“I thank you,” I said to her, and then said to her brothers and father, “I thank you all.”

“I will see you out,” her brother Nicholas said.

At the door I asked him, “What did she mean about Grandfather Rupert?”

“He was a widower,” Nicholas said. “At age 70, he married a 20 year old woman. They had three children, and 25 happy years together. He considered remarrying after she passed away, too.”

He closed the door.

I think I would have liked to know Rupert.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The truth

After her brothers and father left, I sat next to Anna Kristina.

”Before you speak, I want to say I’m sorry,” she said. “l came home feeling confused. My father asked me what was wrong, and I told him what happened. I’m sorry that I put you in this situation.”

“I came here willingly,” I said. “There is nothing to be sorry about.”

“But I am a foolish girl. To think…”

She looked down.

“To think what?”

“That, you, we..”

I took her hand.

“I like the sound of that `we,’” I said.

She looked at me, amazement in her eyes.

“Do you … care for me?” She asked.

“More than you can know.”

“But I am so young. I’ve never been away from my homeland. I know so little of life. And you are a man of the world. A traveler. A holy man.”

I laughed.

“And here I was thinking that you were troubled by my age.”

“Your age? I never thought of it. You are so young at heart.”

“Well, I think you for saying that. But my age is an issue. And something else.”

I chuckled.

Actually, a couple of things.”

“I don’t care about your age.”

“How old do you think I am?”

She thought for a moment.

“50? 60?”

“Much more than that.”

“But you don’t seem even that old.”

“Thank you. But I am much older. Older than you could even imagine. In fact, you might think me crazy if I told you. So I’ll tell you something that will sound even crazier.”

I took a deep breath.

“Your brother is named after Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra.”


“I am Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra.”

“You are a bishop?” She gasped.

“Well, that’s unclear. I was bishop. But what I’m trying to say is that I am that Nicholas.”

She looked confused.

“The saint? But he died centuries ago.”

“Yes, I did. And that is another of those things I needed to tell you.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I am Nicholas, one time Bishop of Myra. I died many years ago. But God gave me a great gift. He allowed me to remain in the world to continue to help people. Especially the children I so love.”

The she did something I never expected.

She laughed.

“I knew there was something special about you!”

“Then, you believe me?”

“My dear Nicholas, I know you are not a liar.”

“I am glad you believe me. But we have some problems we must face if we are to hope for more.”

She brushed her hand across my face.

“Whatever they are, we can face them together, God willing.”

“Yes, God willing.”

I shrugged.

“First, let me say that my heart’s desire is to make you my wife. I have never felt like that about any woman before. God willing, it can happen.

“But I was a priest and bishop. I made a promise to live celibate. I have kept that promise. I don’t know if that vow still holds because I died. And that is another problem. I died. I don’t know if that prevents me from living like other men. I have lived for centuries. I don’t know what would happen to one who lived with me.”

“How long has Peter been with you?”

“Close to a century,” I said. “So I guess the blessing is shared with those who are with me. But I don’t know if that would be the same with a wife.”

I suddenly stopped.

“And I am a foolish man. I have not even asked if that is what you would want.”

“With all my heart,” she said, suddenly hugging me.

“Well, we need to see if it can be done. But my life is a strange one. I travel for land to land, helping, teaching others to help, then moving on. Is that a life you would be happy with?”

“Helping others? Yes. And doing that with you? Yes many times over.”

“Then we need to find out if it can be done. I must appeal to Rome.”

“I think the first thing to do is to pray.”

I smiled.

“Of course. I will pray.”

“We will both pray.”

“And what do we tell your family?”

She laughed.

I’m glad she could laugh about that!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

A "situation"

Under different circumstances, I would have thought it a pretty impressive display with al the brothers gathered before me with arms folded.

Eight brothers. Some of them quite large. All staring at me.

In keeping with the religious nature of the family, they were, Jacob – after the baker himself – then Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul, and, of course, Nicholas.

The baker joined them.

“I understand the situation with my daughter has changed.”

“Yes,” I said.

“This means that she can’t travel with you.”

“Father…,” she began.

“He held up his hand.

“You in the company of a senior member of our community and a friend, fine. But now.”

“You kissed her,” Nicholas blurted.

“Actually, she kissed me.”

They all looked at her. She nodded.

“It does not matter,” the baker said. “A line has been crossed.”

“Yes,” I said. “But if I might have a moment alone with Ann Kristina, we might be able to resolve the situation.”

Young Paul – who was all of eight – sputtered, “But you’re so old.”

The baker looked at him sharply. The he turned to me.

“You may talk to her. We will leave the room for a few minutes.”

They all stood and left.

Paul gave me a funny look.

Nicholas looked at Anna, then at me. Then he winked and left.

When we were alone, I looked at Anna.

“So this is a situation,” I said. “I’ve never been in a situation before.”

“Neither have I,” she said.

"Well, I can't think of anyone else I'd rather be in a situation with.

She smiled.

“But," I said, "I think it’s time for a little truth.”

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The brothers gather

When young people fall in love, they rush into things, allowing their passion to sweep aside reason.

But at my age, wisdom rules.

At least that’s what I told myself.

So I waited.

Two long days.

Two days full of butterflies in my stomach.

Two days of snickers from Peter.

Maybe his nickname – Black Peter – did have some merit after all!

On Sunday, I went to Mass. I sat at the back, as was my custom.

Anna Kristina and her family sat at the front, as was their custom.

She did not turn once.

But I had the feeling she knew I was there.

At the end of Mass, I waited until I was sure her family was home.

I went up to their front door and knocked.

Her father greeted me.

“Ah," he said, a knowing smile on his face. “We have been expecting you. Come in.”

He led me into their parlor, where Anna Kristina sat.

She was flanked by her brothers.

All of them.

All of them standing with their arms folded!

Friday, October 14, 2005

An answer without words

I remained hidden in the bushes.

My heart was breaking.

I was sure that she was in love with another man. A younger man. A handsome man.

It was at that moment that a bug flew up my nose. I sneezed.

“Who’s there?” Anna said, wiping her eyes.

I stepped out from the bushes.

“Sorry I startled you,” I said. I pointed to my nose. “A bug.”


We both smiled awkwardly.

“Well,” she finally said. “I need to get back to the shop.”

“Yes. Well…”

She picked up her honey bucket and turned to leave.

Say something, you fool, I thought.

I moved toward her.

“It that heavy,” I said, pointing to the bucket. “Do you need a hand?”

“No, thank you. My cart is near.”

We both smiled awkwardly again.

Suddenly I burst out laughing. It was all so silly.

Then she laughed.

We laughed until the tears ran down our faces.

I wiped my eyes and looked at her.

“You know,” I said. “You are beautiful when you laugh. And when you cry.”

She looked at me with uncertainty.

“In fact, you look beautiful all the time. I’m sorry I never said that sooner.”

She touched her hand to her cheek. She smiled ever so slightly.

“Thank you,” she said. “You are kind.”

“Just honest.”

She shifted the bucket to her other hand.

“It is heavy,” I said. “Let me carry it for you.”

She gave it up willingly. We walked side by side to her cart. I put the bucket in the back, then offered her a hand to help her up.

She took my hand. But instead of climbing into the cart, she suddenly pulled herself toward me and kissed me on the lips.

Then she let my hand go, jumped onto her cart, and shook the reins.

I watched as she disappeared.

I smiled.

I knew then that I would indeed have to talk to the Bishop of Freising.

But not yet.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


The next day, I went to the bakery.

“Nicholas,” Anna Kristina’s father said warmly, “I am so glad to see you. You have not blessed my shop in weeks.”

“I have been busy helping in other towns.”

“So I hear,” he said. “All Anna Kristina talks about is what you do. She can’t believe a man of your age has so much energy.”

My age? My heart sank.

“When you are doing the Lord’s work, you find strength,” I said.

He chuckled. “You and my Anna are certainly working for the Lord. Many a shop owner would like workers like you to. You put me to shame!”

“Ah, is she about today?”

“Today? Yes. She is off gathering honey.”

Honey? Could she be back at my farm?

I thanked him and hurried back to the farm.

I went to where I had first seen her gathering honey.

Before I saw her, I heard her. Singing. The same low song I’d first heard her sing as she charmed the bees.

When I got to the spot, I saw her, draped in cloth to keep her safe from the bees.

But there was no need for that, really. The bees had all settled down in response to her song.

She ended by closing her honey container, then saying, “Thank you, brother bees.”

She moved away from to hive, then pulled of the cloths covering her head.

Then se sat on a fallen tree.

She sighed. I saw some tears trickle down her cheek.

“Oh Lord,” she said softly, “please guide me. Do I tell him?”

I suddenly felt empty.

Who was “him,” and what did she want to tell him?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Peter saves me from making a mistake

Whether or not the Bishop of Freising would think me mad, Peter clearly did.

We were sitting at dinner when I told him how I felt about Anna Kristina, and my plans to go to the bishop.

“In love,” he said. “That’s fine. But running off to talk to a bishop when you don’t even know how she feels? That’s madness.”

“It’s true that she might not have feelings for me that way,” I said. “But I don’t want to propose before I know if I can marry.”

“Propose! Why, you haven’t even held her hand.”

“I have several times.”

“To help her into and out of wagons, maybe. But not the way a man in love holds the hand of a woman who loves him.”

He had a point.

“Besides, even if she does have feelings for you that way, what will she think once you tell her who you are and how old you are? A 16-year- old might love a 60-year-old, though I’m not sure I like the idea, but a 16-year-old and a 600-year old?”

He was off by a few years.

A few hundred, actually.

But I knew in my heart he was right. I must tell her how I feel, and who I am.

Over the years, I had willingly faced wild animals, church officials, barbarians, trolls, saints, thieves, giants, and murderers – but this was the most frightening thing I ever had to do!

Monday, October 10, 2005

I fall in love

Back to the story of my wife.

After helping the people of Rhundveld with their plague, we returned home.

But we were soon on the road again.

We visited many of the neighboring towns and villages, telling them what to do to end their plague.

Sometimes we traveled together. More often, we went our separate ways.

Meanwhile, our reputations spread.

The kindly old Nicholas. The saintly Anna Kristina. The young and creative Nicholas..

I think people started to mix us together.

But as happy as I was about helping others, I was troubled.

“You look glum,” Peter said to me one night.

“Ah, a little,” I said. It is nothing.”

Then I sighed.

“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were in love,” he said, laughing.

Then he looked at me in a funy way.

“You are. You are in love. With Anna Kristina? Of course.”

He smiled, shook his head, and added, “You old devil, you.”

In love? Me?


But, then I knew I was indeed falling in love.

But I could not. I should not.

Devil indeed.

I was on a mission from God to bring joy to the children of the world.

I was a bishop.

And…I had died!

I needed to talk to someone. Someone with clear vision.

So I decided to see the Bishop of Freising.

I had heard he was a wise man and holy man.

I just hoped he didn’t think me mad!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

A day of rest with one I love

We have been working hard to remove the snow Dimmis’ machine made, and have all the dangerous parts cleared away, so today I ordered a day of rest.

We all needed it.

After church, most of the North Pole community just stayed home. Little of the usual visiting.

There were a few who ventured out to continue the sculpting.

I didn’t join them.

Instead, I spent the day with Mrs. Claus.

I thank the good Lord for her.

Every day.

So tomorrow I will tell more of how we married.

But tonight, we are going to sit in front of the fire, drink some hot chocolate, and eat some of the cookies we baked together.

For some reason, they always taste better than any other cookies.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


Work continues on getting the snow cleared out of the town square.

We've been hauling away blocks of white, red, blue and green snow.

For now, the blocks are being left just outside the town. We will move them away later.

But not all of them.

Some of the more creative members of the North Pole community have already begun to carve the blocks. The layers of color make for interesting effects.

Several gnomes began a project of making snow sculptures of the ark and pairs of animals! Other carvers have joined them. We already have some beautiful elephants, camels, mooses, and wolves partly done.

The suggestion has been made that we also keep some of the blocks in the town square so we can have scultures there.

Meanwhile, some dwarves have begun a secret sculpture. They keep it hidden as they work. We are all curious.

I like the creativity.

I also like the fact that everyone is working together.

I might even try one. I wonder if I can get Mrs. Claus to pose?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Digging out

A busy day.

The snow that Dimmis’ machine made is so dense it’s almost like ice. We’ve had to chip away at it and haul it away in chunks.

We’ve had teams of reindeer busy pulling – something they have not been too happy about!

We’ve also had to be careful because if we cut the snow wrong, some of it could collapse on buildings.

While we were working on the snow, Eomar came to me.

“Dimmis is waiting at the airfield,” he said. “He has a packed bag.”

I went to the airfield.

The minute Dimmis saw me, he started to cry.

“Don’t worry, Santa,” he blubbered. “I’m leaving. I’ll never cause another problem.”

“Problem?” I said. “Why, you made a wonderful machine. I’ve never seen such lovely snow.”

“But I’ve almost buried the village.”

“Nonsense,” I said. “We’re getting it cleared away. But, to be honest, we can use more help.”

“I could get my digging machine,” he said, brightening.

“Well…” I said. “I’m sure it would do well under normal circumstances. But, ah, what we have here is a delicate operation. We need your careful touch.”


“Of course. I’ve seen some examples of your paint work. Very delicate. We need that for this operation.”

“I guess I could help,” he said, picking up his bag, grinning from ear to ear.

An hour later, he was busy cutting away at the snow.

And he was doing a fine job of it.

Without machines!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Oh my goodness.

Yesterday was almost a disaster.

The mail pilot did not know about all the snow made by Dimmis’ machine. The village does not look like the village. Plus, it was snowing.

So the pilot, Ulnar of Sweden, landed right on the pile in the town square. But his plane reached the edge of the pile and went over, crashing into the stuffed animal storehouse.

The animals cushioned his landing, so he did not get hurt.

A number of teddy bears didn’t, though!

Then part of the pile collapsed on some of the tunnels we dug Sunday. No one was in them - thank goodness – but it meant more digging.

The dwarves added some bracing to the tunnels, but they say the pile is too unstable and needs to be cleared away.

We dug into the night last night, so I could not write. And I’ve just finished a meeting about the snow.

We are going to try our normal snow removal procedures. But for a job this size, it means suspending all toy making for a few days.

And Christmas is just two-and-half months away!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A couple of positive things about the snow

Sunday is normally a day of rest here at the North Pole.

Thanks to Dimmis’ snow making machine, this Sunday was a day of tunneling.

Actually, I think the dwarves had a jolly time of it. It was a pleasure to watch them dig away, and to teach mining techniques to elves and gnomes.

The dwarves reported that the snow produced by Dimmis’ machine is quite dense, so it packs well. That made for strong walls.

With the regular snow since yesterday, the red, blue and green piles of snow were all covered so they couldn’t be seen from the air. Good thing: imagine if some pilot spotted us!

But from the ground level, the colored snows did have one pleasant effect.

When the dwarves set up lights within the tunnels, the colored snows made the tunnels look green, red and blue. It was quite lovely.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

A little too much snow

Dimmis decided that since it was Saturday, a day for fun and recreation, he would use his snow machine to help make more snow for fun.

He got up before the rest of us, well before dawn, dragged the machine into the town square, and turned it on.

The town square began to fill with red, blue and green snow.

He planned to surprise us when we woke.

When he decided there was enough of the colored snow, he flicked the switch to turn the machine off.

It wouldn’t turn off.

He flicked it again.

No luck.

And again.

Still no luck.

Now at that point, any other elf might have decided it was time to get help.

But Dimmis is an independent sort.

So he kept fiddling with the machine.

And the snow got higher and higher and higher.

Mrs. Claus and I were still in bed, half awake, but not ready to get up yet.

Then she sat up.

“Dear,” she said. “Since when is snow blue?”

I sat up.

Blue snow was piling up against the window.

We sleep on the second floor.

I rushed down the stairs and looked out the front windows. They were blocked by snow.

I went out the back door.

Red, blue, green and white snow was falling all around me.

I raced around to the front of the building – as far as I could get anyway – and saw the snow piled high.

I went back into the house and hit the alarm bells.

Soon I was joined on top of the pile. It was still growing.

We followed the column of rising snow to here there was a hole. At the bottom of the hole, Dimmis was still trying to turn his machine off.

“Turn it off,” I yelled.

“I’ll get it in a minute he called back.

A minute passed.

At that point the dwarf Ulgoff, armed with an ax, leapt into the hole.

There was a loud “CLANG!”

No more snow came out of the hole.

We spent the rest of the day digging snow away from building entrances.

Many of the diggers threw the snow into the hole, covering the machine.

Maybe we’ll find it next spring.

As for Dimmis, he went off to his workshop to get his digging machine.

We made sure we piled snow in front of his door to keep him busy!